Here are seven words. Seven is one of the numbers of power. These words are traditionally associated with mystery and spell-casting. Personally, I don’t think so but they look cool as an illustration.
Her son died. Her husband died. Their father died. His brother died, then his father.
It was. Cancer. Heart attack. A minor infection turned virulent. A holdup gone wrong, a bullet gone astray. Senseless because death, disease, disaster are always senseless.
What to say? “This too shall pass.”
My mother said it all the time. It was her favorite expression. I never thought about it. She said it to comfort me when I was unhappy, when something had gone badly. It never occurred to me the expression was more than something a mother says when consoling a child.
It turns out the expression has a long, ancient history. It has been used to comfort a nation at war, a country consumed by unrest. Families, individuals, kingdoms. They are words you use when you run out of words.
“This too shall pass” (Persian: این نیز بگذرد, Arabic: لا شيء يدوم, Hebrew: גם זה יעבור) is an adage indicating that all conditions, positive or negative, are temporary.
“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”
It’s an old childhood chant, a miserably inadequate defense against bullies and bigots when one is small and powerless. It was oft-repeated, not only by we, the little victims, but by parents, teachers and other wise counselors. It was supposed to comfort us.
It didn’t because we all knew for a certainty it was untrue.
Names can and do hurt. The hurt caused by a cruel name goes deeper than any mere cut or bruise to the body. Psyches heal but slowly. Sometimes they never heal.
Horrible words. Can you still tell me — with a straight face — that names can’t hurt? Will you give me all your arguments that “political correctness” is stupid? That anything which makes it illegal or socially unacceptable to spew hate is too restrictive of free speech? Really? Your free speech? It’s not my free speech. I don’t talk that way and I don’t hang around anyone who does.
Do you actually believe it? Or did you read it as part of some rant on Facebook?
Of course names hurt. They’re intended to hurt. They have no other purpose on earth but to cause pain. These words carry with them the ugliness of generations of haters. It has been argued by otherwise respected bloggers that if a member of a minority (in your opinion) does you wrong, you have every right to strike back any way you can.
I disagree. Racial and ethnic name-calling epithets are never justified. By anything.
Is it the word or its intent that hurts so much? Both. Words have power.
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
But wait a minute. I thought words could never hurt me? (Oh yes they can, yes they do.)
Words bring with them the weight of history. A hate word carries the ugliness of everyone who has spoken it. Each time these words fly into the air, their potency is renewed and reinforced.
It’s time to stop forgiving bigots, stop letting them off the hook. Those hate-filled monologues by drugged and drunken celebrities were no mere slips of the tongue. They were not caused by drugs or drink. You could fill me with all the drugs and booze in the world and you’d never hear that from me. Because it’s not in me.
People who talk hate never do so by accident. It isn’t because of their environment, upbringing, or environment. It’s a choice they made. They know exactly what they are saying and why. It isn’t a joke. It isn’t funny. It isn’t okay.
Excuses are not repentance. Don’t give bigots a second chance. Be politically correct. It’s not merely political correctness. It’s also the moral, righteous, decent, civil, and humane way to behave.
This was a silly prompt. Ask a silly question, get a silly answer. I like this one so much, I tried to read it out loud and by the end, was laughing too hard to continuing talking. So, without further ado …
Off to various doctors and hospitals today, so I thought a spot of humor might be in order. I got a kick out of this one and maybe so will you!
Originally posted on DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society:
Irritable Vowel Syndrome – something has to change yventually!
Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).
The last time I used a word that I didn’t know how to pronounce, but whose meaning I understood just fine, was “epitome.”I had read it in context many time and understood its meaning. But how to say it out loud? I got it wrong.
Everyone laughed. I never forgot. I was 9-years-old.
I don’t now and never have used words when I don’t know what they mean. I look them up. That one little moment of humiliation was sufficient for a lifetime. I always wince with pain when I hear people misusing words. It used to require one find a dictionary to look it up — or at least ask someone “What does “phenomenology” mean?
These days, you just Google it. Some words, like “epistemology” and “cosmology” (as opposed to “cosmetology”) require a little more than a single sentence explanation. I avoid using them unless that’s what the post is about. Unless you are trying to lose your audience, find more easily recognized words.
It doesn’t make anyone look smarter to misuse 20 dollar words when a 5 dollar word will do the job nicely.
Revelation #3: It’s all in the wording.
You need the right lingo to dazzle your audience. Big words (4 or more syllables) used in the right context can showcase your education and intelligence. People will make little cooing sounds to show their admiration.
Big words enhance your likelihood of getting a management position. You can write important books. Have a blog like me (and I know you want to be just like me). Big words can take you a long way if you are skilled at deploying them.
Note: Make sure you know how to pronounce them. Mispronouncing big words will cause unexpected laughter … not good unless you are aiming for a stand-up comedy career.
Let’s start with epistemology. This is an excellent catch-all word you can drop into any conversation. Most people will have no idea what you are talking about but will be too embarrassed to admit it. On the off-chance you encounter someone who actually recognizes the word, you can use this handy-dandy definition from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the philosopher’s convenient source for everything:
Defined narrowly, epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits?
I bet you still have no idea what it means. The awesome truth is that epistemology doesn’t mean anything because it means everything.
Anything that means everything means nothing. Equally, when something claims to do everything, it has no actual use. This applies to people, concepts, and kitchen appliances. In practical terms, everything and nothing are identical. (Remember infinite sets from college math? It’s like that.)
On to phenomenology. When I was studying religion in college, phenomenology was a way to prove the existence of God. Phenomenologically speaking, all human experience is proof of God. Except the same reasoning can prove there is no God. This is the joy of phenomenology.
Phenomenology can help you prove all things are one thing, all things are God. You are God. I am God. I am a warm cup of tea and you are a daffodil. If this doesn’t clarify it for you, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers further elucidation:
Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object.
In other words, you can use any and all human experience, your experience and anyone else’s, to prove whatever you want. Phenomenology is fundamental to all belief systems: religion, politics, and Fox News. Lots of people believe in religion, politics and Fox News, so maybe they will believe in you too.